1991-2001 Our First Decade
A Word from the Chair
by R.D.Walshe, OAM
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve come a long way together in the past ten years.
Formally speaking, our birthday is the 22nd of July. On that day ten years ago we dared to hold an ‘Official Launch’ at the recently rented shopfront/office on the mezzanine floor of Eton Arcade. It was a drop-in affair: “Join us,” we said, “to sample Ruth Zeibots’ catering”. I recall that Councillor Doug McNeil attended, representing the Shire Council’s Mayor, Ian Swords.
So, our first AGM came around in 1992. It was attended by just seven members, and three apologies were received. I want to name all ten: Ruth Zeibots, Michelle Zeibots, Jean Rodger, Neil deNett, Pam Cook, John Nelson, Connie McPherson, Heather Rice, John Barnard, Bob Walshe. Now, that’s surprising: all of that pioneer group remain active members to this day. [Seven are present tonight and apologies have come in conscientiously from the others.]
The minutes of that first AGM were rather elementary by today’s sophisticated standard. For example, the Auditor is reported as saying sternly: “membership register needs to be formally kept; name, address and date [for each]; some office procedures can be improved”. And here’s another surprising fact – that honorary auditor too is still with us.
So there’s been an astonishingly high degree of people-stability – and, no less, of policy-stability.
Every region in Australia needs protecting by an environment centre. But none needs it more than Sutherland Shire – because this Shire is the most remarkable local government region in Australia, with a host of threatened natural features: the two great bays, Port Hacking and Botany Bay; three of Sydney’s six rivers, four national parks including the oldest in the world; many of Sydney’s best beaches; and the birthplace of the nation, where Aboriginal and European cultures first met. By the way, Aborigines are reported by the First Fleet diarists to have assembled muttering, shouting and making obscene gestures when Phillip’s sailors indiscriminately chopped down trees on Kurnell – that’s the first environmental protest meeting in Australian history! And we have over 100 urban bushland areas in the Shire to protect, along with 50 per cent of Sydney mangroves and 90 percent of its saltmarshes.
Up to 200 years ago it had been “God’s own country”; now it’s “Paradise lost” and in need of restoration, for as well as the nuclear reactor, and the biggest rubbish tip in Australia, and the trucking away of Cronulla’s sandhills, and a miserable public transport system, we have a host of urban and traffic problems arising from an all too rapidly rising population of 215,000.
Understandably then, our much-needed environment centre has strengthened through each of its ten years. You can see why we have 16 committees, each working in an area of environmental need. Over twenty of the Centre’s members sit on Council, Government and industry committees. We publish four newsletters a year and contribute a monthly article to that esteemed newspaper Shire Life.
Many see us as an UMBRELLA ORGANISATION. Whether by close ties or friendly association we salute: EMRAA, the Electro Magnetic Radiation Association of Australia, led by Lyn McLean and John Lincoln; PHPS, Port Hacking Protection Society, under chairman John Atkins and Miriam Verbeek, which gathered the support of nine other organisations in presenting a hard-hitting Report Card last month to State Government; KREPC, Kurnell Regional Environment Planning Council, made up of eight community groups and whose Secretary is Simon Kimberley, also the Environment Centre’s secretary; CARTS, Citizens Advocating Responsible Transport for the Shire, led by Michelle Zeibots and Brian Anderson; PANR, People Against a Nuclear Reactor, a leader of which is Michael Priceman, a longstanding member of the Centre; CRoSS, Combined Residents/Precincts of Sutherland Shire, whose chairman, Neil deNett, has continuously been on the Management Committee of our Centre since its inception. And we value close associations with NPA, the National Parks Association, through Milton Way, who is here tonight: and with the recently formed BBaRCA, the Botany Bay and Rivers Community Alliance, whose executive members Gary Blaschke and Irene Jones are here tonight.
The Centre writes frequently to the Shire’s two Federal and four State MPs and to our fifteen Councillors. We have active members on the two major Catchment Boards – for Botany Bay, and Port Hacking and the Shoalhaven. We value the quarterly review meetings we have with Sutherland Shire Council. And, apart from all these specific instances of the Centre’s involvement with influential organisations, there are the many Centre members who plug away as individuals, volunteers, in their precinct committees, bushcare groups, and other community bodies.
I must refer to another great environmental resource for which the Shire is the richer: special, prominent citizens – creative, self-starting individuals – who make themselves responsible for particular areas of the Shire. A number come to mind: think of Norm Dixon’s 50 years of intense activity for Woronora Valley; of Annette Hogan’s long defence of North Cronulla and the sandhills; of Jean and George Baluk for Miranda; Neil deNett for Bundeena; Adrian Palmer for the Menai area; Bernie Clarke for Towra; Pat Murray for the Taren Point wetlands; Tim Tapsell for the Hacking and the Royal… the list goes on. Those particular areas are blessed by the dedication of such individual environmentalists; their efforts mostly pre-dated the Centre, but the Centre is proud now to be able to offer them assistance.
From all these activities across ten years, I think we can discern an evolving ‘Centre style of work’. We began by announcing in the 1991 Constitution that the Centre is “A self-funded community organisation totally independent of political parties and Council”. Yet we know that every step in defending or restoring the environment is political, insofar as it requires action to be taken by some level of government whether local, state or federal. Political, but not party-political. Of course we have members who belong to one or other political party – and we wish we had more – but our Management Committee considers every issue on its merits, takes a principled environmental stand, keeps the principle of sustainability in the forefront, and looks for practicable solutions. To say as much is to speak in motherhood terms, I know, but that is unavoidable.
We set ourselves the task of raising the environmental awareness of this Shire of 215,000. We cooperate with and applaud all environmental projects of our Shire Council, and especially of its valued Science Unit under Dr Garry Smith, which has for example launched the great Greenweb concept, the Botany Bay Program and initiatives in stormwater management, energy-saving, and more.
We have to grapple with the difficulty that attends every municipal council, namely that there are two levels, not always in harmony – I mean the elected councillors and the staff or bureaucracy. We stand by the democratic principle that the elected reps must be in charge; but in the years of the nineties we have all been schooled by Yes, Minister to be aware of the power of bureaucracy which, everywhere, tends to be slow, persistent, suspicious of change, with an unimaginative mind-set and with its own self-serving interests; it seldom gives leadership, preferring to plod along on a status quo course.
I believe that our Council’s councillors and bureaucracy are above the average of Sydney’s 43 councils, and we try to maintain cordial, if possible warm, relations with both staff and councillors. Very occasionally though and always with regret, we have to differ from Council decisions and even to actively oppose them – just as North Cronulla Precinct Committee found it had to do when it took Council to the Land and Environment Court a few years ago, and as we feel obliged to do, currently, over incursions on precious remnant bushland at Menai.
Whatever the disagreements or conflicts with Council, MPs and others, it is basic to our style of work that we differ courteously but firmly – and always remain friendly, which is necessary because there is always tomorrow and its need of some fresh consultation.
Finally a few words on the future. After looking back on ten years of considerable achievement, we must be aware too of deficiencies. It’s extraordinary that in ten years we’ve never had a real membership drive. We need more members of all ages – everyone is valuable. We need closer links with the schools. We need a better planned, comprehensive flow of green information continually going out to the Shire community. And we need to be aware of our own temptations to be bureaucratic – I mean allowing ourselves to be tied down by office commitments, the daily grind, when our first responsibility should be to campaigning, taking initiatives, being creative and proactive.
I’ve left to the last a happy note. Because our office in Eton Arcade has grown too small and, anyway, the landlord plans to rebuild and to raise the rent, we’ve been looking for months for a new place. Only yesterday we put down a deposit on premises twice as large and we hope to move in sometime in the new year. Still in the Sutherland area.
Yes, we’ve come a long way together in the past ten years! The Management Committee asks me to convey its appreciation to everyone here tonight, to the whole green movement of Sutherland Shire, for many achievements and for determination to continue with even greater conviction into the years ahead.
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Executive Officer's Report
by Jim Sloan
Good evening and welcome to our 10th AGM in this year of 2001.
The tenth year of SSEC being in existence has eventfully passed. Once again, our activities over the past year have been a blend of the spontaneous and proactive.
Under the accomplished leadership of the SSEC Management Committee, the Centre continues to respond to community needs with expedience, common sense, and innovation. We continue to welcome new friends to the Centre and introduce many to new ways of thinking about our environment.
For ten years now, Sutherland Shire and its bioregions have benefited from SSEC’s activities. We continue to keep our working relationship with Council in high regard.
The SSEC continues to target the following issues:
- Stopping unsustainable development and population growth in the Shire.
- Promoting sustainable transport usage.
- Preserving remaining bushland and regenerating degraded bushland.
- Restoring the quality of waterways.
- Recognising and promoting the Shire’s cultural heritage and its value to current and future generations.
- Encouraging sustainable consumption and waste avoidance.
- Demanding safety of consumer goods and services.
- Banishing activities producing radioactive waste and opt for non-reactor high technology.
- Linking global environmental concerns to local actions.
SSEC Activities 2000/2001
During the 2000 Olympics, the Centre arranged for this meeting IRATI WANTI! (the poison-leave it) in front of ANSTO. These “Seven Sisters” Aboriginal elders travelled 3000km from their desert home in South Australia. (The symbolic Seven Sisters are based on an Aboriginal dreamtime belief of the Seven Sisters who cared for their desert country in ancient times.)
These Aboriginal women elders have been exposed to atomic radiation from the British nuclear testing with no apology and no compensation. They have been forced to endure the world's largest uranium mine on their country.
They said: “We are concerned for the country and for our children's future. For the grandchildren, great grandchildren, and their children. The poison should be under the ground all the time. We know the story- the Dreaming for this. You gotta listen to us, because we’ve got the young ones still coming and the country’s got to be there for them to look after.”
“We want the whitefellas to understand about Anangu culture. The culture isn’t dying, it’s still alive. This land is our country for so long. We are inviting all the whitefellas to come and sit down with us by the fire and listen and learn the Aboriginal way.”
The Centre has been very active in its fight to save the Shale Sandstone Transition Forest that is on the site known as Menai B (below). A four page brochure distributed to 10,000 homes and a webpage were some of the activities the Centre carried out to support the Menai community. Read more about this issue in the PUBS Report at the end of this document.
In March this year, the Centre hosted the Sydney-wide Population Forum (below) along with SOSS (Save our Sydney Suburbs) and AESP (Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population) at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre.
|Gordon Hocking has to be commended for putting together an esteemed group of speakers that included the Hon. Philip Ruddock, Dr Mary White, and Professor Peter McDonald. The Forum attracted over 300 participants and is the first of many the Centre will host. More information can be found on our website at http://ssec.org.au
Proposed urban developments have once again kept the Centre busy this year. The largest of these is the Sharks proposal for the development of 650 new residential flats, apartments and aged care units. The Centre through KREPC was very active in raising community awareness on this issue. A website has been established by KREPC http://ssec.org.au/sharks that lists 5 major objections to this proposal with photos, especially to sale of the junior playing fields.
In 2000, Miriam Verbeek reported on our trip to the United Nations in New York where we made a contact with Dirk Bolt who heads a program called NorthSeaNet. This program is aimed at developing common indicators and criteria in spatial planning and the development of the built environment. The aim of the project is to influence the development of the built environment so as to promote sustainability. It tackles important issues such as modalities of spatial distribution of land use and their densities, the implementation of sustainability at various contexts and the planning of networks of infrastructural linkages between them such as transport.
It seemed to us that this program would be extremely worthwhile, not only for Sutherland Shire but for the whole of Sydney. To this end, we have been successful in bringing Dirk Bolt to Sutherland as part of our Localities Forum on 3 November. The focus of this Forum will be changes to the NSW Planning Act and the community’s role in the implementation of these changes.
Due to its success over the past ten years, the Centre has outgrown itself. Our office is too small. After careful consideration and detailed research on our options a new site over twice the size of our existing office has be identified. Negotiations are currently under way and we should be moved into our new home at Unit 11a, 2-4 Merton Street Sutherland by January 2002.
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Community can be described as a “social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government and have a cultural and historical heritage”. Community can be a specific group of people (geographical, cultural, religious, etc.) or it can describe a quality of relationship based on certain values and principles.
No matter which way we describe community, whether as an area within the Shire, the Shire as a whole, our bioregions around the Georges & Hacking Rivers, NSW, or Australia what SSEC continues to promote is our common concern for our environment.
Our values and principles underpin our efforts in promoting a sustainable community that doesn’t compromise the ability of great grandchildren to meet their future needs.
We continue to promote our principles:
- use of renewable resources and conservation of non-renewable resources while avoiding polluting and wasteful practices;
- citizen participation;
- community health and quality of life;
- design and construction of “green” buildings and housing;
- creation of “green” businesses, especially those that utilise secondary resources;
- design of sustainable communities;
- development of sustainable agriculture;
- preservation of the natural landscape.
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Our vision is of Sutherland Shire bioregions in which community, business and government work in partnership to bring about a sustainable natural environment and a productive, healthy society based on ESD principles.
Direction and Vision
||The Centre has continued to advance its effort to protect and improve the quality of the local and regional environments. The Management Committee continues to make the SSEC the focal point for local and regional environmental activism and actively participates in decision-making at all levels of government.
Our LEAF campaign (Local Environments of Australia) is progressing slowly but steadily as we continue to promote SSEC as a model local environmental action group.
The Centre’s web site continues to expand with the addition of numerous pages and topics.
The Centre’s library now has over 2000 specialised reports. We will continue to use it as an effective means of communicating with our community in the coming years.
This past year the SSEC increased donations from the community by over 14.5% to $131,000; Grants by over 34% to $30,000; and income from subscriptions, sales and fundraising by 63% to $28,500. The Centre continues to build a strong and stable fundraising team as an important goal within its strategic plan.
Pat Elphinston and her fundraising committee once again successfully achieved their objective of raising enough money to cover the Centre’s rent, electricity and a significant portion of the telephone bills. This year they topped $5000 in their community street stalls, wow! Also this year the Centre would like to make special mention of Dave Shirley below, whose role in keeping the Centre’s street stalls well supplied with plants is recognised and appreciated by all of us.
|The annual dinner this year promises to be another great time with good food, music, and prizes. On behalf of the membership, “CONGRATULATIONS” and a heartfelt thank you.
Last year’s annual dinner was a gala event. The theme was pick-a-decade from the last century and dress to it. The table to the left chose a 1930’s Guys & Dolls theme and each reported it was a wonderful evening.
|The evening pitted tables against each other in a session of trivia with many prizes won on the night. The buffet style cuisine was excellent. Special thanks to Ruth Zeibots for all her efforts, especially the great prizes, it led to a very successful evening.
Delays this year have meant the Centre is still developing a marketing plan for LEAF (Local Environments of Australia Fund, with the intention of launching its corporate fund-raising campaign.
We also delayed the launch of our community fund raising campaign which will deliver a four-page broadsheet to every household within Sutherland Shire.
Continuing fundraising objectives include:
- Business Pack – prepare an information and service pack tailored to small and medium commercial business, attracting income and donations.
- Guest Speaker Seminars – arrange seminars with well-known environmentalists, professional educators and specialist guest speakers that will attract a paying audience.
- Environmental Info Packs – a variety of topical information packs for sale to the general public.
- Publish a book – on global environment issues with a local Australian perspective that will help raise community awareness.
- Project Grants – continue to apply for government and private grants that give the Centre ability to carry out local environmental projects.
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Projects Completed or in Progress
Millennium Forum Project (Thinking Globally and Acting Locally) – in May last year, the Centre was successful in acquiring a $20,000 grant from Perpetual Trustees to build sustainability awareness within the community.
Sutherland has proven receptive to information on global environmental and social issues and their impacts on Australia. Global perspectives on issues such as overdevelopment, population growth, climate, transportation, preservation of urban bushland, wetlands and rivers are important to us. This project is the beginning of the Centre’s development of these materials.
SSEC Research Officer Project – in January this year, the Centre received a one-year $20,000 grant from the Natural Heritage Trust 2000-2001 for this project. The purpose of this project is to facilitate Local Agenda 21 capacity building. This project has allowed us to employ a research officer who has been crucial in organising our community forums and producing fact sheets.
Recycled Art Project – in 2000, the Centre was successful in applying for a $1,500 community grant from Sutherland Council to host another Recycled Art Competition Project. This project attracted entries from a number of local schools and culminated with a popular display at the Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery.
Once again the Centre has applied to continue its Recycled Art campaign, but this year will focus on developing a kit for schools that will focus on linkages to waste minimisation and the environment. This will lead to a better understanding by students of why the Centre promotes recycled art and the message we are trying to give the community.
Tongan Capacity Building Project – in April/May this year, the Centre hosted an AusAID project based in the Dept of the Environment of the Government of Tonga, with the objective of strengthening the capacity of an NGO agency called Langafonua (the Noble Women's' Association). To this end, the Centre had Ms Hauoli Vi, a delightful Tongan community activist, with us for seven weeks.
Hauoli participated in a number of the Centre’s activities, which culminated in her attending a 3-day seminar on environmental education. She spent a huge amount of her time researching and translating our material on the environment into Tongan. The success of her time with us is best described in this letter she sent to the Centre two weeks ago:
|GOOD DAY TO YOU, SSEC
I’m going to one of the Primary Schools, Ocean Of Light to help out in one of their Projects (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) on Tuesday and also to do a demonstration in the school for the kids in classes 5 & 6.
I’ll ask my friend Sally, she’s a Sutherland resident, here for 1 week and returning to Australia on Thursday 20th. She will mail my program kit to the RARE (Resource and Recovery Education) convenors when she returns.
I managed to develop a new idea for one of the communities here (Havelu), by writing to all the private businesses in the Havelu Community asking for financial support. This was to buy 18 empty drums from the BP Oil, paint, brushes etc.
Guess what for ??? For rubbish and recycling bins.
Since a rubbish bin here in Tonga is very expensive for some people and none of the communities want one to spend a penny in buying one for their own homes or for the community. I know it takes a long time to change these types of attitudes but I am working on it.
First, we had a meeting and I gave them a piece of my mind and knowing some of them would have to agree with everything just so that the meeting would finish early. I managed to convince them that since the community beach, which is opposite their Lagoon, had to be cleaned up of rubbish, mostly aluminium cans and glass bottles which they normally take straight to rubbish dump. I told them that if we put drums there to collect recyclables we will need to take less to the dump.
I told them that not only Havelu Community would benefit from the new idea in collecting the glass bottles and aluminium cans and make it our one and only recycling business here in Tonga, but we also get paid for collecting them.
It’s not hard work, all we do is pick them up or if we see others, to put them in the drums. When it’s full, all we have to do is call the recycling people to come and take it and pay us. Then the money we would get would be a deposit for the village beautification or new drums etc.
As for plastic bottles, we don’t have any recycling in Tonga yet, so they go straight to the dump. Alternatively, we can give it out to the Hospital for the medicine bottle or the people who might need it for their own reasons.
Before our meeting was finished the Town Officer reminded me that since we’re having problems with people littering on the street and people dumping their homes rubbish at some beaches. Since this is a small island and everybody knows everyone or is related to the law enforcement, rubbish bins and the law enforcement may not work.
He also had to say, “How are we going to control that and how are we going stop the people from just messing with our instructed rubbish drums or when it’s night time or if our backs are turned and we don’t see, other’s will come and just dump their home rubbish in the recycle drums.”
Luckily my brain was still working at the time, I told him and the meeting that whole purpose of the drums is only for the Havelu community not for any other village or for the public of Tonga. It’s only for the Havelu community, and that is where the community can come in and help battles against those who do that. They will have to be responsible for looking after the drums, they will have to watch out for it (neighbourhood watch). Sort of like making them know that they own the drums and (how do you say it?) sweat for it and they won’t like it when someone comes and messes with their good work.
Not only that, the other villages will see what we’re doing and they’ll end up copying our idea and do the same thing and maybe we’’ all be lucky not to have this problem any more. They applauded the idea.
I had to ask the Town Officer of the community to get some volunteers in opening the drums ( just to make them contribute and to involve in any development work in the community). We managed to fix the drums lid and also the painting.
All drums were painted green and the instructions were painted in the Tongan language.
The drums were distributed yesterday to the sites at the lagoon where the community could watch out for them and at sites where shops are located and the communities could use and look after them. I did take photos of the drums, so when I develop the film I’ll make sure that I’ll scan them and e-mail to you and the rest.
- 6 drums for aluminium cans only,
- 6 red drums for glass bottles only, and
- 6 yellow drums for plastic bottles.
I would say it was very difficult for me at first, to try and involve them and make them work for it but at the end I finished. I also had to face people with such a very closed or small mind or thinking telling me it’s not going to work, the drums will end up as a rubbish collector not recycling. I also had a hard time trying to put it to their thick headed small minds that it will take time, and also how would they know if they don’t learn and work at it.
Some say the drums are beautiful and very colourful and sometimes I nearly burst out with anger at them for such small minded but thank goodness I remembered that I was like that before and didn’t know much. (I thought they might say, “Great, it’s high time someone should think of starting that for a change.) I guess I am not that lucky after all (ha!ha!). I think I’ve got high blood pressure from struggling with the new idea and defending my new development idea.
|Send my regards to all of you.
Bye for now.
Hauoli Vi. Langafonua (The Noble Women's' Association)
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Conservation Alliance Grant – in late June this year we submitted a $7,000 grant application to the Conservation Alliance. The purpose of this project is to develop a community resource kit on regional wetlands and their biodiversity.
Rio+10 – next year is the tenth anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Centre will be looking for opportunities to send representatives to South Africa, which will be hosting the Rio+10 (next Earth Summit in September 2002). Any member interested in contributing to this process please contact the Centre.
Shire Protectorate (the monthly newsletter of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre) – this project is an effort to expand the Centre’s quarterly newsletter into a bi-monthly environmental newssheet. A distribution of 14,000 newsletters each issue will target a specific area in the region. In this way each resident of the Shire will receive at least one copy of our newsletter each year, subscribers will receive 6 copies annually. To this end, the SSEC has applied for a $26,000 grant from the Natural Heritage Trust 2001-2002. We are hoping for a positive outcome by November 2001.
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Policies and Procedures
The Centre has continued to add to its policies and procedures this year. Once each document is developed, drafted, circulated and concluded by consensus, it then goes to the management committee for final approval and is posted to the Centre website. The Centre will continue to add or improve on the following:
- Aboriginal Interests
- Air Pollution
- Coastal Issues
- Community Participation in Decisions
- Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)
- Energy Conservation
- Genetic Engineering
- Greenhouse Issues
- Loss of Regional Biodiversity
- Marine Pollution Issues
- Mining and Use of Uranium
- Nuclear Issues
- Resource Use and Population
- River Issues
- Soils and Their Conservation
- Threatened Species
- Tourism Issues
- Toxic and Hazardous Waste
- Transportation Issues
- Urban Bushland
- Urban Development
- Waste Minimisation
- Water and Sewerage
- Wetland Conservation
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Last year the membership voted to increase all membership fees by 10% in accordance with the GST. This year the Management Committee is proposing the following changes to SSEC’s constitution.
The Management Committee requests that the membership vote on the following Special Resolutions: 2001 changes to the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre Constitution. (N.B. The Constitution is available at the SSEC’s office in Eton Arcade, Sutherland.)
Revision 1: add the following dot point to the end of Part I: Preliminary, Rule 4 Interpretations:
“affiliated associations” in this document refers to legally registered sub-associations of the SSEC with a constitution that has been approved by the SSEC management committee.
Revision 2: change Part III: Management Committee, Rule 14 Powers etc. to:
The Committee shall be called the Management Committee of the Centre and, subject to the Act, the Regulation and this constitution and to any resolution passed by the Centre in general meeting;
- shall control and manage the affairs of the Centre;
- shall control and manage the financial affairs of the affiliated associations;
- shall exercise all such functions as may be exercised by the Centre ,other than those required by the constitution to be exercised by a general meeting of the members of the Centre;
- shall perform all such acts and do all such things as appear to the Management Committee to be necessary or desirable for the proper management of the affairs of the Centre;
- shall perform all such acts and do all such things as appear to the Management Committee to be necessary or desirable for the proper management of the affairs of affiliated associations in accordance with their constitutions.
Revision 3: change Part III: Management Committee, Rule 15 Constitution & Membership, paragraph g) to:
- The number of members of the Management Committee will be determined from time to time by a majority of the Management Committee, but shall not be less than five nor more than eight members and one position must be filled by a representative from affiliated associations.
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In this International Year of the Volunteer, the Centre’s volunteers continue to be active and committed. Each volunteer deserves special mention and on behalf of our organisation I give you a heartfelt thank-you. You are the best! Dave Shirley, Jean Rodger, Ruth Zeibots, Pat Elphinston, Bob Walshe, Joan Flowers, Shirley Renshall, Ruth Turner, Gordon Hocking, John Cox, John Nelson, Michael Priceman, Adrian Palmer, Neil deNett, Tim Tapsell, Michelle Zeibots, Lyn McLean, John Lincoln, Anita Lenzo, Troy Coyle, Hauoli Vi, Jane Northway, Dmitriy Nikolaev, Susan Gaines, Kathy Paquet, Ted Lawes, Pamela Arnold, Cathy Baxter, Philip Cremer, Yvonne Roberts, Sandra Getts, Margaret Maynard, Barbara Field, Helen Justice, Dorothea Dirks, Ken Palmer, Peter Lahiff, Connie McPherson and Olwyn Tavendale. Your dedication, reliability and hard work is what makes the Environment Centre’s successful.
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A Brief Snapshot of Some SSEC Activities of the Last Decade
Since its inception in 1991 the community work of Sutherland Shire Environment Centre has grown dramatically. Here is a brief account of about thirty highlights of that work.
… All the issues above paint a picture of the earlier activities of the Centre over the last decade. For more recent issues, see the reports from Committees and Campaigns.
- Campaign against French Nuclear Testing in Pacific 1996
The Centre collected over 19,000 signatures to a petition, which the French Consul described as the most numerously signed of all petitions he had received. Our deputation was with him for nearly an hour. The Centre organised a day of mural painting by children on Cronulla Mall. The resulting huge mural was airmailed to Paris for display.
- Dr Mary White's 1996 visit to Shire: "Local Agenda 21"
The Centre proposed this great event, secured Council's consent, and negotiated details with Dr White. It also carried out major promotional work, distributed 2.000 leaflets to schools, and sent a spokesperson to address school assemblies and/or Year 11 classes in 18 of the Shire's high schools.
- Production of Video: "Exploring the Woronora”
With assistance of a Council grant, the Centre created this video-and- script, a high-level technical production. It is now available at cost to the schools of the Shire and other bodies. Premiered to the audience of 400 at the Dr White meeting, it drew very favourable comment… Still available @ $10.00
- Successful Promotion of "The Endeavour" visit to Botany Bay
The Centre got behind Council's promotion of this historic 1996 visit. It took the risk of hiring three ferries, and succeeded in filling all three, so that over 200 Shire residents were given a grandstand view. The work involved for the Centre (bookings, money, timing, etc,) was onerous.
- Launching of "The Green Team" in Primary Schools
Another major project, this contributed to raising community environmental awareness by enrolling hundreds of children (at only $3 per head) in a club built around the characters, Frank and Francine, two green frogs. Quarterly newsletters full of educational things-to-do were sent to members.
- Fourth Arts and Inventions Recycling Competition
The fourth annual AIRC event, this was the largest so far. Students produced works, often ingenious, made from used materials. Both the generation of products in the participating schools and the subsequent public display served to promote recycling.
- Schools Writing Competition, 1997
Also the fourth annual occasion. The competition was swamped with contributions, at least twice as many as before. Judged with the help of members of the Shire's Adult Writing Group. Winning entries were on public display at Menai Market Place.
- Making Educational Resources Available to Students
The Centre is open from 9.00 - 5.00 Monday to Friday. It has accumulated extensive resources of information which are in demand for school projects and tertiary research. Students, and often their parents, make use of this service in growing numbers.
- Environmental Education - Visits to Schools
Centre's Education Officer, Ms Lyn McLean B.A., Dip.Ed., B.Ed., began these visits to schools and community groups on a diverse range of subjects. School Environment Coordinators are increasingly aware of the value of such visits.
- Speakers Available to Organisations
The Centre is able to make speakers available to Shire organisations and special meetings on a wide range of environmental subjects. This service has grown in popularity since 1995.
- Assistance to Various Community Organisations
Many small community groups seek the Environment Centre's assistance with advice, contacts, and desktop publishing, groups such as Precinct and community-action committees.
- Wider Circulation of Centre's Newsletters
Aided by the desktop publishing skills of Mrs Jenni Gormley, the Centre improved and increased its newsletter to twelve pages. The Centre is now mailed to an ever-widening audience (eg recent edition sent on trial to all high schools).
- Staging of Envirofest 1995 on Cronulla Mall
This was the Centre's major organisational effort in the early years. Continuous entertainment all day, and over 50 stallholders. Purpose: to promote environmental goals while raising funds for the Centre's activities.
- Suburban Street Stalls Promote Environment Cause
The Centre's volunteers circulate their stalls around the Shire's shopping centres, but operates mainly at Gymea. Like the Envirofest, these stalls have the twofold function of promoting good ideas and raising funds.
- Support for Council's Helensburgh Campaign
The Centre fully supported Sutherland and Wollongong Councils' rejection of urban development around Helensburgh (in the interest of preventing urban pollution from entering the Royal National Park via the Hacking River). A Centre representative played a prominent role in all sessions of the long-running Commission of Inquiry and has followed subsequent events.
- Support for Council's Policy on the Lucas Heights Waste Depot
The Centre's Waste Committee has monitored the problems associated with No. 1 and No. 2 Tips throughout 1995 and has since corresponded with the Ministers for the Environment on related issues, broadly supporting Council's policies on Tip closure, extension of recycling, development of composting, etc.
- Development of a Policy on Sustainable Waste Management
The Centre developed a comprehensive policy, titled 'The Process of Sustainable Waste Management'. It was taken up by Sydney's Waste Crisis Network and, with some additions, has been accepted as the policy of the community organisations involved with the State's waste problems. It was also adopted (almost in toto) in the conservation movement's submission to the State Government, 'The Environment Portfolio Four Year Plan', September 1995, chapter 3, pages 49-53.
- Active Efforts to Secure a "Megapark"
With the National Parks Association (ref. Gary Schoer, Secretary), the Centre has several times corresponded with the Environment Minister urging the carrying out of the ALP promise to link land acquired by the Waste Depot with the Georges River National Park and Heathcote National Park.
- Vigilance in Preserving Urban Bushland
Because SEPP 19 is more often ignored or overridden, the Centre's Bushland Committee has striven this year to preserve remnant greenspace from ill-considered demands for urban development, sportsfields. etc. It is also alarmed at increasing demands on sensitive areas, e.g. building on steep sides of valleys. The Committee has responded to appeals from residents in Yowie Bay, Waterfall, Menai, Bangor and Woronora Valley.
- Submission to Senate Select Committee on Radioactive Waste
The Centre made a submission concerned with the health risks to the Shire community, and three representatives addressed the Select Committee. (See Hansard Report, 3 August 1995.)
- Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Radiation Activities
The Centre's EMF Committee has achieved Sydney-wide prominence for its varied activities, e.g. (a) informing of potential danger to community health from locating telecommunication facilities in residential areas, (b) halting the unwise decision to alter the Australian Standard governing levels of RFR exposure, (c) insisting on the public's right-to-know concerning location of facilities.
- Georges River Problems - an REP in Preparation.
SSEC played a key role on Planning Minister Knowles' Section 22 Committee which is charged with producing a Regional Environment Plan (REP) for the Georges River - a catchment of 960 sq. kilometres, the most populated in NSW. Empowered with overriding authority, this is a committee of 34 (Council had a place on it). Later it gave way to other initiatives.
- Botany Bay Problems
The longstanding Botany Bay Planning and Protection Council often moved within the SSEC framework, gaining access to the Centre's facilities. It was active in 1997 on problems including erosion of foreshores, damage to seagrasses and mangroves, weed infestation of Towra peninsula, Third Runway issues, flights over Kurnell Oil Refinery, and nasties imported through ballast water.
- Woronora Mangrove and Bush Regeneration Project
The Centre carried out most of the organisation of this project, with financial help from the State's "Rivers Reborn" scheme. It had valuable technical assistance from Council and it had volunteers from local residents, the local primary schools, and conservation groups. Scope: (a) stabilise subsiding banks, (b) erect floodwater deflection barriers, (c) collect and plant 550 juvenile mangroves, (d) eradicate weeds and clear area 250m x 75 m, (e) plant 1800 native shrubs and trees (ongoing).
- Sydney Water Issues
The Centre has been active on the Sydney Water Regional Customer Council. Its chief concerns are the problems associated with major upgrading of the Cronulla Sewerage Plant, potable water quality (water treatment plant), and ageing infrastructure, including sewer overflows.
- Major Contributions to the Shire's Transport Problems
The Convenor of the Centre's Transport Committee, Mr Malcolm Cluett, a community representative on the Council's Transport Working Group, has published "Sutherland Shire Transport", summarising the findings of the Shire Transport Strategic Study, with particular reference to new light rail corridors, in Transit Australia!, journal of the Australian Electric Traction Association. The Committee sent copies of this journal to all councillors.
- Helping Residents with Noise Problems
The increasing traffic congestion in parts of the Shire is equalled by growth of noise problems at many points, e.g, at major roundabouts. The Centre revived the organisation, CRANE (Concerned Residents Against Noisy Environments), to advise residents on how to deal with noise problems.
- Impact of Urban Development on Shire Environment
The Centre has worked since 1996 on this highly complex subject with precinct committees, through the Combined Residents/Precincts of Sutherland Shire (CRoSS). The aim is to lobby Council when development threatens the environment, and/or to provide information and advice to residents who are adversely affected by intrusive or damaging development.
- A Population Stabilisation Committee
This committee congratulates Council on its commitment to UN Agenda 2I's Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD), It is engaged in monitoring population growth within the Shire, and fully understands the dangers of overdevelopment/congestion which result from unchecked growth. This Committee's representative to the Nature Conservation Council's Annual Conference (covering 98 groups) secured unanimous endorsement of the principle of population stabilisation as the only route to ESD. The work of this committee is ongoing.
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